Thursday, February 28, 2008

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

I saw my acupuncturist today. Her name is Brodie Welch and she runs Life in Balance Acupuncture here in Corvallis. She's the one who has prescribed some herbs and a five-mushroom pill for me. It was while using the five-mushroom blend (three of the five have anti-cancer properties) that I noticed that the red rash on the mastectomy area stopped spreading.

I'd heard previously that acupuncture can help with nausea, but I didn't seek out an acupuncturist for the chemo treatments five years ago. I told Brodie that I have had a few episodes of nausea with Xeloda and Tykerb, but that they usually went away if I ate something - usually something bland and sweet (those Girl Scout Trefoils are great for that!) - and if I made sure to drink lots of water.

In addition to the nausea, I told her that some of the other symptoms I have are: feeling thirsty and waking up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth, a couple of mouth sores (nothing that interferes with my eating), hot flashes, other menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness (sorry for being explicit, gentlemen!), and acne. Her interpretation: that I have a lot of toxic heat in my system between the cancer and the chemo drugs and my body is trying to let it escape. She suggested that I drink peppermint tea - it has a cooling effect and can help with nausea - and that I swish with aloe vera juice for the mouth sores, both because it has a cooling effect but also antibiotic properties. I decided to try the aloe vera gel on my face for those same reasons. I'll let you know how that experiment works.

But amazingly, since the acupuncture treatment yesterday, I haven't had any nausea! My stomach and digestive system feel just about normal. Although I had a little bit of a pastry with my toast (since I figured I needed more in my stomach when I took the Xeloda), I don't feel dizzy or nauseous. She also put these carrow (I think?) seeds on my ear, at a few acupressure points. They are taped onto the ear in places that relate to various energetic parts of your body - the liver chi, the stomach chi, the kidney chi, I think one for my lower back (which has been sore since I heard the diagnosis). She also gave me magnets to put onto stomach/nausea pressure points above my wrist. I asked her how they work and she said that the pressure reminds the body to dial into (divert healing energy?) that system to relieve the nausea. Two of the seeds do kinda hurt when I press on them, so maybe that means that they are working to help with the nausea and maybe even the worry and tension.

I bought a book on acupuncture yesterday so that I can understand the whole system better. As an anthropologist, I am interested in how different cultures conceive of health and healing, so I find it fascinating. It's helping, that's all I know, and I want to know why!

Have a great day! I saw this really nice large rhododendron bush blooming on the quad near the MU on my walk to campus today. Big pretty pink blooms! Yesterday, while walking to the acupuncturist's office, I saw lots of miniature daffodils, dwarf irises, crocuses in all colors, and this little white flower that looks like a blue bell. I love spring! It was warm here, too, yesterday - partly sunny and 63 according to my car. Yay!


Liz Kreger said...

Okay, your talk of all things growing at the end is depressing me, Dee. We still have about two feet of snow on the ground. I WANT SPRING TO COME!!!

Glad the acupuncture is working. How wonderful. I've wanted to look into that but never got around to it. Since I have so few side effects, I doubt that I need to bother.

So pleased to hear that the rash is receding. Terrific news

Carver said...

Hi Dee,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I am so glad that acupuncture is helping you. I have seriously considered acupuncture. I have peripheral neuropathy and myofacial pain which began a few months after my groin lymph node dissection. I have had a lot of physical therapy, massage therapy, and a lymphedema specialist but the one thing I haven't tried is acupuncture.

I told my surgical oncologist some time ago that I was considering the integrative medicine clinic which has an acupuncturist at the university where I see him. He said that should be fine as long as it was in addition to my other follow up. I have had long term pain management and feel like I've tried everything but acupuncture so good to hear someone who is getting multiple benefits from it. I would love to be able to manage pain better without all the medications I've taken for 2 1/2 years. I see my pain doc in early April so I may discuss it with him too. It seemed very timely to me to read this post as I have thought more and more about acupuncture of late.

Take care, Carver

Dee said...

Hi Liz and Carver,
Liz, I'll start wishing spring for you so that it arrives sooner rather than later! I also saw another tree flowering pink blossoms from a distance today - but I don't know the name of the tree. And, yes, I'm happy that the rash is receding and that the acupuncture is helping the nausea.

Carver, I do recommend acupuncture and I hear that it's good for pain. One of my colleagues used it for sciatica pain and I know of several others who liked it for nausea. It might be good to ask around and get recommendations. I didn't feel very comfortable with the first person I visited five years ago. I really like the woman I see now and what I like most about her is how holistically she treats me, by asking me not only what is going on physically but emotionally and mentally, too. It's sorta like shopping for a doctor or a masseuse or a therapist - find someone you're comfortable with. I'm lucky - my insurance reimburses me for these treatments, yours might, too. I wish you luck with it! And, thanks for visiting my blog, too.